Nov 27 2015

North East Business Networking ‘Willow Wednesday’


Credit: Michelle Fowler Photography

The not for profit networking group NorthEastBiz  (in conjunction with Barclays)  gave £2,500 cash to the local charity The Toby Henderson Trust Last year and nearly £10k worth of networker services free. 

This year NorthEastBiz attendees have so far raised over £2,000 for another local charity Carers Northumberland again with Barclays help and in the end it will be even more than the total last year.  This means that in two and a half years NorthEastBiz has raised well over £5,500 for charity, they gave £600 plus to St Oswald’s in their first half year, while also providing services in kind and actively promoting the work of local charities.  This in its self is not that remarkable but what is notable is that it is all the result of a simple but effective not for profit business networking model.

On the ground it is small stuff, NorthEastBiz collects £5 per head at a mingle event (Willow Wednesday) and paying the venue £4 as well as charging £10 per head at a Morpeth breakfast event and paying the venue £8.  All the funds left after the venue is paid goes into the charity pot.  With only one mingle and one breakfast event every month plus other fund raising activities they have achieved a lot with minimum effort.  Businesses have broadened their networks and generated business opportunities while local charities have had support in cash and kind while also having a platform to increase public awareness at networking events and on social media, @NorthEastBiz has over 10,000 twitter followers. It’s simple stuff and everyone is winning.

This approach to networking was started over two years ago by NorthEastBiz and the model works. The group is run by spreading the administration across half a dozen volunteers in the group so no one person gets overloaded and they are all driven by the knowledge that they are contributing to the common good. The only outgoing costs from the funds collected are small amounts for sundries such as badge holders and a one off cost for an event banner . Every attendee (except guest speakers) pay to attend. Of course they could not make it happen without excellent venue partners.  The breakfast event is hosted by the Bill, Liz and their team at the Riverside Lodge Morpeth, who happily provide for the wide range breakfast requests of attendees.  The mingle event at the newly refurbished Willow Farm Restaurant is supported by Peter and his mangers who make the event special by providing multiple refills of teas, coffees and muffins.

The NorthEastBiz not for profit networking events really work.  At the last Breakfast they had 23 attendees and at the November mingle event, Willow Wednesday, there were still 8 of the 40 attendees in deep conversation over half an hour after the event was due to finish.

There may be one or two individual groups that occasionally give to charity but just imagine what could be done if all North East or even National Networking events were structured to support local charities.

To find out more about NorthEastBiz a business networking group that believes business should help build a stronger communityvisit http://www.northeastbiz.co.uk/events


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